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Seminole Heights bike shop reopens in new location on North Florida Avenue

Velo Champ Cycle Sport, which enjoyed six profitable years at 6112 N. Central Ave. in Tampa, has moved into a new location on busy North Florida Avenue in Seminole Heights.

Jordan Miller, who owns the business with his mom and dad, Doug and Sue Miller, says he was looking for more space and the chance to further enhance the concept of a specialty bike shop. 

“We do a lot of things other bike shops don’t do, like custom wheel building,” says Jordan at the new location, 4415 N. Florida Ave. “We use a more consultive approach with customers when it comes to customizing a bike or building a bike from scratch.”
 
Though Velo Champ is open for business, the family is still in the midst of interior renovations, with Jordan handling much of the labor and Doug, an architect, helping with design. The bike service area is complete, but Jordan, 34, is still working on the other half of the 2,700-square-foot shop where bicycles for sale will be displayed.
 
Doug collaborated with his son on designing customized light fixtures which still lay on the floor waiting to be mounted. Doug, a disabled Air Force veteran, says the family wants the modern work and sales space to advance the business’ ultimate goal of being a “destination” cycling center.

“When someone leaves here, they can say, ‘This is my bike and it’s special’,” Doug says.
 
The brick building, which the family is leasing, dates back to the late 1930s or early 1940s and is an example of an architectural style called federal modern, Doug says.
 
“There are some interesting details on the front that are masked by paint,” Doug says. “We’re going to fix it at some point to bring back some of the original details.”

Jordan Miller, who worked in motion pictures and imaging before opening a bicycle business, says he always thought Seminole Heights needed a shop like his. The residents who frequent the neighborhood’s hip restaurants, coffee shops and craft breweries share similar concerns with devotees to the culture of cycling. 

They both care about the environment and tend to support improvements in mass transit, along with walkable, bike-able streets.

“We share similar interests and a passion for the neighborhood,” Jordan says. “I definitely see there is an environmental concern here and a transportation concern that seems more prevalent with bicyclists.”
 
As part of that cultural crossover and support, Jordan says he intends to soon restart the Pub Bike Ride that was a monthly event and started at his bike shop on Central Avenue. The event regularly drew more than 100 cyclists.

“It’s a great way to show what the neighborhood is about,” he says.

How you can vote for best local architectural design in AIA Tampa Bay competition

Are you into local architecture? 

Maybe you really like the craftsman style of the Gulf Gate Library, the unique canopies of the Tampa Riverwalk or the futuristic aspects of the USF Health Pharmacy.
 
Whatever your architectural preferences, AIA Tampa Bay is inviting you to be the judge of its annual Design Awards competition. Through Nov. 2, you can vote for the 2016 People's Choice winner.
 
"This year, we have 51 outstanding projects vying for the honor of being recognized by the community," says Phil Trezza, president of AIA Tampa Bay. "This competition during Tampa Bay Design Week is important to our community because it gives a voice to the people who live, work and play in the buildings our members have designed."
 
AIA Tampa Bay is the regional chapter of AIA or the American Institute of Architects, the professional association for architects and those in the architecture field. The organization has been holding a People’s Choice Design Award program consistently since 2012. Last year's winner was Rashid Medical Complex by Gresham, Smith & Partners, which received more than 170 votes.
 
This year's entries have been submitted by local architecture firms, design-build teams, architectural interns and students. Voters can see a gallery of the projects online and vote for their favorite.
 
"When voting, people should consider more than building aesthetics," says Dawn Mages, Executive Director of AIA Tampa Bay, "they should consider how the building functions for its users and if it is sustainable."
 
The winner of the People's Choice Award will be recognized during Tampa Bay Design Week at the Celebrate Design awards reception on Nov. 3 at The Italian Club, 1731 E. Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. The event is open to the public and tickets are $55 for AIA members and $75 for non-members.
 
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit AIA Tampa Bay online or call 813-229-3411.

Officials break ground for new stage at Land O' Lakes Community Park

Plans for a new stage in Land O' Lakes took a step forward this month.
 
The Pasco Board of County Commissioners, the District School Board of Pasco County and community supporters broke ground for the performing arts venue on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Land O' Lakes Community Park, north of Tampa.
 
Not only will the 1,020-square-foot stage serve the community, it will also be available to nearby Sanders Memorial Elementary School.
 
"This stage is going to actually be a cornerstone of future cultural events here in Land O' Lakes, something that we currently don't have -- and we have a lack of countywide, actually," said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore during the groundbreaking ceremony. "So you can think about things that are going to be happening on that stage could be school band concerts, plays, pageants, and various other presentations. It's just going to be a wonderful amenity."
 
The $250,000 stage is the second part of $2.3 million worth of improvements to the park where the Land O' Lakes Community Center is located. The first phase was celebrated about a year ago with a ribbon-cutting for a new practice field, football field, softball field, walking trail, concession building with restrooms and meeting rooms, maintenance building, event field, two shelters, parking lots, playground and remodeled patio area.
 
Money for the stage comes from donations from architects, contractors and a grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
 
The park was built in the 1960s, and an organization called the Heritage Park Foundation was created in 1997 to help protect it.
 
"Our desire was to keep our little historical park alive, to keep it as a community gathering spot it was created to be, and the co-facilitated shared use of space with Sanders Elementary," Sandy Graves, honorary mayor of Land O' Lakes and Heritage Park Foundation president, said during the Aug. 16 event. "That was the plan from the inception."

The group has long advocated for a stage at the park.
 
"Heritage Park Foundation has a motto," Graves said, "building a better community by building a better community center."
 
Construction on the stage is expected to begin in the fall and wrap up in January 2017.

Unique dining concept, The Hall on Franklin, coming to Tampa Heights

Tampa Heights will soon have a distinctive collection of eateries that Developer Jamal Wilson hopes will help Tampa become a food destination.
 
The Hall on Franklin is an upscale, chef-driven food hall that will feature several dining options, a craft coffee bar, a lounge with specialty signature cocktails, outdoor seating and live entertainment on nights and weekends. It's expected to open this fall in the historic Farris Building, 1701 N. Franklin St., which housed an automobile company in the 1920s. A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 1.
 
Wilson came up with the concept over several years. He was exposed to cultural restaurants and food curation while playing professional basketball in Europe, and he visited modern-day dining halls more recently while traveling with his family in the United States, like The Source and Avanti F&B in Denver and The Pennsy and Gotham West Market in New York City.
 
"At some point you begin to wonder if you can deliver something of that level where you live, and eventually you say, 'Why not,'" Wilson says. " … Our local talent, for one, is exceptional, and one of the things I love about Tampa in general and the small pockets of communities like Tampa Heights and Seminole Heights specifically, is how supportive and welcoming we are for new ideas and entrepreneurial ventures."
 
Property owner Maureen Ayral of A2 LLC restored and renovated the building over two years. She refreshed the hardwood floors, brick walls, ceilings and ornate iron details. She also converted the street-level windows that once showcased new model cars to glass garage doors that will bring light and fresh air to the indoor-outdoor dining experience.
 
The 8,000-squre-foot Hall has already partnered with local restaurants, which will showcase unique dishes from their flagship locations or create new pop-up concepts. They include: The North Star Eatery, an Asian fusion concept by Kevin and Singh Hurt of Anise Global Gastrobar; La Bodega, Latin fusion by Felicia LaCalle, the former executive chef of The Samba Room, which is now closed; Bar K?-fe, a coffee bar by Ty Beddingfield, former master barista at Buddy Brew; Bake ’N’ Babes, desserts and confectionary by Julie Curry; Bar Concept, bespoke cocktails by Ro Patel, bar program creator of Franklin Manor and Anise; and Heights Melt Shoppe, gourmet sandwiches, homemade soups and sides, hand-spun milkshakes, and unique popsicles by David Burton of Holy Hog BBQ, Tampa Pizza Co. and So Fresh.
 
Wilson, who estimates the total investment in the project is between $500,000 and $750,000, says The Hall is a great opportunity for local chefs looking to deliver their vision on their own terms.
 
"It's not an easy proposition to start your own restaurant from the ground up, so the collective is a great entry point for an up-and-coming chef to break out," he says.
 
He says the collective is an even better opportunity for Tampa foodies.
 
"There is nothing like being able to order an appetizer from one restaurant, share dishes from three more, while having a craft cocktail designed to complement the menus from multiple restaurants," he says. "Or maybe you just want to stop in for ice cream, dessert or coffee at the walk up open door cafes. I just can't imagine a better experience with family and friends."
 
The dining area will feature modern, high-end design elements, and if visitors see something they like, they'll be able to purchase the same item from The Hall's retail space and have it shipped directly to their home.
 
Entertainment on nights and weekends will be provided by DJs and live bands.
 
"It also helps that on the weekends we will be open until 2 a.m., which lends itself well to the live, work, play theme of the urban corridor," Wilson says. "Your food options should not be limited after (midnight) in a thriving city like Tampa."

The Space theater in West Tampa grows a loyal following

A new arts space in a historic part of Tampa is thriving.

Simply called The Space, a restaurant turned performing arts venue in West Tampa, is now in its fifth month of business, which is booming. The Space is an innovative concept where round tables and couches replace typical theater seating, and performers sit in the audience and perform on raised platforms around the establishment as opposed to a traditional stage.

What is also unique about The Space is its location. While other owners may have looked for locations in downtown, Westshore or Hyde Park, Jared O'Roark and co-owner Erica Sutherlan chose West Tampa and the community has embraced them.

“So far the community has been so great to us,” says O'Roark. “There are several local gentlemen in the area who help with parking, and reassure people who are not familiar with the area that this is a safe area. When you make that turn on Main Street, some people may perceive the neighborhood as dangerous, but believe me, I live around here and it is not dangerous.”

Currently at The Space, "Elegies for Angels, Punks & Raging Queens,'' is playing through April 24th. The musical is an innovative production in which each actor plays five to six characters -- each sharing his or her experience with death from AIDS.

So what is it like for performers in this unique theatrical environment?

'It's much more intimate and more challenging in a good way,” says Actor A.R. Williams who plays multiple roles. “It has made me a stronger artist because on a traditional stage with all the lights you can't even see the audience. Here, you can see and even feel what the audience is going through as they watch the performance. To feel the emotion and that energy just makes me a better performer.”

Tron Montgomery, who plays everyone from a homeless man to a flamboyant gay man to a horrific character who seeks to infect as many as he can with the virus to a war vet, states that bringing The Space to West Tampa is important for the community.

“Where I grew up is basically what you see outside,” Montgomery says. “I love the idea of bringing the arts back to change the community. To bring the arts to this neighborhood gives people a new aspect of life. It changes you, it certainly changed me. I could have easily ended up a completely different person, but theater saved me.”

"Elegies for Angels, Punks & Raging Queens'' will be playing its last show this weekend, April 22-24. For ticket information, visit the theater's website

Historic Tampa Theatre needs your donations to continue renovation

A historic gem in downtown Tampa is on its way to reaching its fundraising goal of $10 million thanks to several generous donors in the community.
 
The Tampa Theatre, located on Franklin Street, has been part of the city’s cultural arts scene for 90 years. To ensure the theater remains intact and relevant for future generations, a fundraising drive is ongoing.

Tampa Theatre board member Anne Arthur Pittman and her family are the latest donors to step up to pledge $500,000 to the historic theater. In addition, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner on behalf of the county's Capital Asset Preservation (CAP) Grant program announced a $325,000 contribution. And the theater received an anonymous donation of $100,000 at the beginning of the year plus a $1 million tax fund appropriation passed by the Florida Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott.
 
Improvements to the aging facility will be executed by Westlake Reed Leskosky, a Cleveland-based architectural and design firm that is also working on the Master Plan for the Straz Performing Arts Center in downtown Tampa.
 
“Our immediate priorities are protecting the building from the elements, or sealing the envelope, as we’ve referred to it, and updating critically outdated infrastructure and systems,” says Jill Witecki of the Tampa Theatre.
 
Witecki goes on to explain that priorities include:
 
  • Replacement of windows installed in 1926 along the Florida Avenue and Polk Street sides of the building with windows that are aesthetically true to the Theatre’s historic landmark status, but that are thoroughly modern in terms of energy efficiency and storm-rated safety.
  •  Water mitigation in the basement, which will include a vacuum de-watering system to prevent further water intrusion through the walls and floor, and repairs to the water-damaged plaster walls.     
  • Electrical upgrades throughout the building to replace the original cloth-covered wiring and main power distribution, update the house lighting, and modernize the lighting and sound interface that touring productions use when they visit the building.
According to Witecki, work is being completed as money comes in based on what needs must be met first. For those interested in donating to the historic theater, you can do so through the Tampa Theatre website. There are also opportunities to give back by becoming a member.

Straz Center master plan for redevelopment moves forward

Theater and performing arts lovers will applaud at the news that the Straz Center in Tampa is set for major redevelopment. The conceptual phase of the master plan was recently unveiled and its contents scrutinized.

Changes to the center, which are being developed and conceptualized by Paul Westlake and Jonathan Kurtz of the architectural firm Westlake Reed Leskosky, include the creation of a grand terrace that flows to the Hillsborough River, reinventing and enlarging the Silbiger Lobby in Morsani Hall and adding a multi-purpose events center to accommodate growth in food and beverage, education and artistic programming.

So why make the changes now?

“The Straz Center is approaching its 30th anniversary,” says Judy Lisi, CEO of the Straz Center.  “It was the right time to plan for the future of the Straz Center.”

The center, which boasts an average 600,000 visitors annually, has created its master plan to align with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's InVision Tampa plan. The Straz Master Plan will be funded by the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, and has been approved by the mayor, city officials and the center board.

The project is expected to cost up to $100 million. While it is too early in the planning process to have a completion date, Lisi says the center will stay open during construction.

“Once we have a better handle on funding, then we will have a better idea of scheduling,” Lisi says. “The next step is further refinement of the plan.”

Community art giveback begins in Channel District, Tampa

Art is springing from the walls in the Channel District, literally.

The Channel District Community Alliance, Inc. in cooperation with the homeowner’s association at the Grand Central at Kennedy has begun the first installment of their art giveback to the community. The project entitled, “Waves of Change,” is a four-part art series that will reflect the overall spirit of the district.

The purpose of the art is to bring beauty to the neighborhood, but, according to Vance Arnett, President of the Channel District Community Alliance, it goes beyond just esthetics.

“We are a walkable community so we want to provide people with beautiful surroundings, but we also want to give people a destination to walk to,” Arnett says. “We want to have something that you will want to show visitors, family and friends when they come and visit.”

So what will people see when they walk the streets of the Channel District? A mural created by Artists Meaghan Farrell Scalise of Traditional and Digitial Arts, LLC (TADA) and Rebekah Lazaridis.

“We really want to catapult the arts scene here in this area,” Scalise says. “The neighbors that have seen our progress have expressed such joy over it and we hope that it provides the residents here with a sense of community and pride living in the Channel District.”

 It took the artists under a week to complete the mural.

“We are planning more art projects and each one will have a theme,” Arnett says. “One will be indicative of the history of the Channel District, another of the lifestyle and one that represents our future.  We also plan to strategically place them around the community so again they are destination spots for people to walk to.”

You can see the “Waves of Change” mural at Grand Central at Kennedy located at 1120 East Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. 

Tampa Bay area colleges add buildings designed for the future

As college students settle in for the Spring semester at campuses around the Tampa Bay area, many of the college grounds in the region are under construction to make way for the future.

USF St. Petersburg

The University of South Florida-St Petersburg (USFSP) recently broke ground on the Kate Tiedemann College of Business building. The building located on the downtown St. Petersburg campus will be designed to enhance the learning experience for business students.

“The new building will house an accelerator lab for its entrepreneurship program where students can develop startups and work with local entrepreneurs,” says Gary Patterson, interim Dean and Professor of Finance at the Kate Tiedemann College of Business. “We will also provide a consumer insight lab where marketing students can conduct focus group studies. The building offers USFSP the infrastructure needed to improve the services to our students and community partners.”

Patterson says the building, which will cost upwards of $29 million, will allow students the ability to congregate in one location.

“Currently the students, faculty and staff are spread across eight buildings at USF St. Petersburg,” he says. “Students will finally have a home, and the new building will allow them to work on group projects in the break-out rooms found throughout the building.” 

The Kate Tiedemann College of Business building is expected to open Fall 2016.

University of Tampa

To ensure not only a healthy mind, but healthy body too, the University of Tampa is building a new fitness center. Scheduled to open Spring 2016, the 40,000-square-feet, two-story building will have exercise programs, personal training and evaluation, intra-murals, club sports and a room dedicated for spinning classes.

In addition to the expenditure of the building, the University is purchasing a large number of treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers and free weights for the fitness center.

Eckerd College

Students interested in the arts rejoiced when the college recently announced plans to replace its Ransom Arts Center with a new visual arts building. The Ransom Arts Center, which has been a staple at the main campus since the 1970s, was torn down.

The new building has yet to be named, but will be approximately 34,000-square-feet, quite an upgrade from the original 18,000-square-feet. With the extra space, students can expect more video and photography space, a green screen and more space for a dark room.

Construction started last month and is expected to be completed in two years.

Tech company in Tampa invests $1M in expansion, 45 new jobs

As the growing list of tech companies based in the Tampa Bay area gets longer, one company that has called Tampa home for over a decade has big plans for its future. SunView Software, Inc., founded in 2003, is investing $1-million into expanding its headquarters located at 10210 Highland Manor Drive in Tampa.
 
“We are adding 6,000-square-feet of office space to the existing headquarters in the Highland Oaks office complex,” says John Prestridge, VP of marketing and products for SunView Software, Inc. “We are building out a modern workspace for the expansion designed to enhance collaboration and teamwork for the expanding SunView team.”
 
He goes on to say that higher sales and continued product innovation have contributed to the robust growth and need for more space. With the extra space, Prestridge says, the company plans on hiring 45 new employees. Positions include software development, services, support, marketing and sales.
 
The company received help from the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation in expediting the permitting process to get the expansion plans on the fast track.
 
“Hillsborough County’s burgeoning information technology industry is a major point of pride for this community,” says Lesley “Les” Miller, chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in a news release. “Our formidable group of technology entrepreneurs, increasing numbers of highly skilled IT talent, and excellent business climate and quality of life are all helping to position us as one of the most desirable tech destinations in the country.”
 
Sunview Software joins several other technology companies that are also expanding their Tampa Bay headquarters including, Accusoft, BlueGrace Logistics, Connectwise, Hivelocity, ReliaQuest and Tribridge.

USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute begins move to downtown Tampa

Tampa’s downtown revitalization continues to flourish as plans for the new USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute begin to take shape at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive.
 
The decision to place a facility in downtown was out of need and convenience.
 
“The current outdated medical school facilities were designed for a different era of medical teaching when large classroom instruction was the norm instead of today’s emphasis on smaller, active learning classrooms and on team-based, technologically intensive modes of learning,” says Dr. Charles Lockwood, Senior VP of USF Health and Dean of Morsani College of Medicine.  “Moreover, combining the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute into a single facility on the downtown site to be generously donated by Jeff Vinik will provide the university with an important competitive advantage in attracting the best and brightest students, the most talented young faculty and the country’s leading cardiovascular research scientists.”
 
While specifics of the building have yet to be determined, USF has already received an $18 million gift from Carol and Frank Morsani to assist with construction of the complex. Lockwood says it has been that kind of generous financial support from the community that led to the downtown plan.
 
“A series of events aligned, including our need for new facilities, Mr. Vinik’s visionary plan to develop the downtown Tampa waterfront, former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford’s championing of the Heart Institute’s funding, and a new spirit of collaboration and cooperation between USF and Tampa General Hospital,” he says. “After careful review of our situation, we seized upon the unparalleled opportunity to make the downtown location a reality. “
 
Last June, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott supported plans for the new facility by including $17 million in the annual state budget.
 
“The move will be critical in placing both the medical school and future heart institute within five minutes of Tampa General Hospital, USF’s primary teaching hospital where our students do most of their clinical rotations and our clinical faculty admit most of their patients,” Lockwood says. “This downtown location is precisely where millennial medical students and young faculty want to be.”

Revolution Ice Cream Company plans move to Seminole Heights, Tampa

Fans of Revolution Ice Cream Company will no longer have to drive to Brandon to buy a scoop or two of their favorite flavors. 

The local, independent ice cream parlor that is popular for its unique flavor blends (such as pumpkin-spiced RumChata) is opening its second store in the trendy Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights. 

The new store is slated to open at 6701 North Florida Avenue in Tampa in mid-December. 

“Seminole Heights seems to be the place for food,” says Bill Workman, owner of Revolution Ice Cream. “It’s a neat, tightly knit community.”
 
Workman opened the innovative ice cream parlor at 220 W. Brandon Boulevard during March 2013 with his wife, Leslee, after growing a thriving ice cream business from their home. 

“I started making different flavors of ice cream in our kitchen using a Cuisinart, and soon we were filling orders for friends’ parties. We had people pulling up into our driveway, leaving their cars with cash in hand, and walking out of our house carrying brown paper bags five minutes later.” He laughs, “It’s a good thing the cops were never called on us!”
 
Revolution Ice Cream, which carries about 20 flavors – roughly a dozen regulars and eight seasonal flavors – would seem to be the brainchild of a master chef with training in a multitude of confectionary cooking disciplines. Not so. Revolution Ice Cream represents Workman’s first foray in the restaurant business. 

“People ask me how I come up with these flavors, but I don’t know. It just happens – it’s a God-given talent.” 

Workman mentions his mom was a dietician and prepared meals for him when he was growing up that none of his friends ate. 

“I guess you could say I was a foodie before ‘foodie’ was even a term,” says Workman, who is in his early 40s.
 
For Workman, running an ice cream parlor is just one of the many hats he’s worn in his eclectic career. 

“I’ve worked in insurance, mortgage lending, and big box retail,” he says. “I took a few college classes but didn’t graduate, so I guess you could say I went to the School of Hard Knocks.”
 
So how did he venture into making a smorgasbord of ice cream concoctions with names like “Pomegranate Rosemary,” “Eurotrash” (Nutella ice cream and Biscoff cookie crumbles), and “Porky’s Delight” (vanilla with bacon and bacon brittle)? 

“I get inspired when I walk through the grocery store and say ‘I want to make an ice cream flavor out of that.’” 

Meanwhile, the concept for the hip ice cream hangout came from a trip the Workmans made to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

“I came across a store called Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee. I thought it had a cool vibe and neat flavors of ice cream,” he recalls. “When we came back to Florida, we couldn’t find anything like it here.” 

The couple launched a Kickstarter campaign and later took a chance by offering free ice cream for the first four days the new store was opened. “On Day 5, we started charging, and people still came.”
 
In addition to the Brandon storefront location, Workman also operates a Revolution Ice Cream food truck, which draws a crowd wherever it stops. Revolution Ice Cream has more than 5,500 followers on Facebook and a Yelp* rating of 4.5 with over 100 ratings. It’s therefore no surprise that Workman expects good things for the new location in Tampa. “I think Seminole Heights will blow Brandon out of the water!”

Priatek Plaza name stands tall in St. Pete

One of the most notable high-rise commercial buildings in downtown St. Petersburg has been renamed. One Progress Plaza is now known as Priatek Plaza.
 
The building is named after one of the tenants, Priatek, a performance-based digital signage company.
 
Known for its “UGot2Play” kiosks, which can be found in malls, stores and airports, the media company offers clients advertising through prize promotions via the kiosks.
 
“I came up with the name Priatek as sort of an acronym for prize and advertising technologies,” says Milind Bharvirkar, president of Priatek. “Also, Pria, which is my second daughter’s first name, means beloved, so when you put it together Priatek really means beloved technology.”
 
For Bharvirkar it really is beloved technology, as Priatek was a brainchild built out of his home in Lutz and now is a successful business venture that employs 15 people and occupies 8,000-square-feet on the tower’s 23rd floor.
 
So why did Bharvirkar choose St. Petersburg for his headquarters? The answer is simple: competition and job candidates.
 
“The Tampa Bay area is a media mecca with Nielsen, HSN and Clear Channel, to name a few,” he says. It gives us the opportunity to compete and even partner with these companies. Also, there is a tech movement happening in this area, and with that brings great talent.”
 
Talent is something that Bharvirkar will be looking for as he plans to expand his empire. He says the space where the company currently resides can accommodate up to 50 people, which means adding to the headcount will not be an issue.
 
“I don’t have a timeline at this point, we will make adjustments and hire when we need to, however I do foresee us growing and hiring in the near future,” he says. “As we grow, there will be a need for jobs here in engineering, media, sales, operations and administration. Job creation is definitely on the horizon.”

Unique theater prepares to open in West Tampa

West Tampa is experiencing a great amount of change as development plans by the city are underway, and in response to all the change, a new theater company is moving into the neighborhood to offer a place of peace, thoughtfulness and innovation.

The Space at 2106 Main, an old restaurant, is being revitalized into a theater that will house performances from band and vocal representations to one-person shows to full-blown Broadway acts. The theater company’s goal is to bring a variety of art to the area.

Before becoming executive artistic director for The Space at 2106 Main, Jared O’Roark, was working with youth for over a decade at Ruth Eckerd Hall. He even gained national attention for his work in the documentary Project: Shattered Silence, which won several awards and even a Emmy nomination.

“After working at Ruth Eckerd Hall for 14 years, the owner of The Space at 2106 Main, Robert Morris, came to me and told me about this building, and when we went inside, he asked me if I saw potential for a theater, and I said, 'yes'.”

O’Roark goes on to say that the theater will be immersive, meaning actors and acts will be moving around the whole theater, even in the audience, unlike traditional theater that all takes place on a stage.

“Everything in the room can move, so every time you walk in the room it should look different,” he says. “The chairs can move, tables can move, the booths can move, so immersive also means whatever the director has in mind, he can do without being tied down.”

O’Roark says this project is also important to him due to the fact that he is able to work with a diverse group of people in a diverse community.

“We are really pushing diversity, and we are not just saying it, the three of us at the top are all minorities. Robert, the owner is Lebanese, I myself am gay, and Erica Sutherlan, the managing artistic director is African-American. We want to not only present art for people outside the community, but we want to do stuff that involves the community. We want people in the community to know that we are not keeping them at arm’s length. This is their place too. This is a diverse community, and we welcome that diversity.”

The Space at 2016 Main will open its doors in September, for a list of upcoming shows check out their Facebook page for updates.

Urbanism on Tap open mic event: Let's talk about role of arts in Tampa's urban scene

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at the Independent Bar and Cafe, 5016 N Florida Ave., in Tampa on July 14 starting at 5:30 p.m. 

Urbanism on Tap is a recurring open mic event focused on generating constructive conversations within the community about current ideas and trends that are shaping our city.

Every event is open to the public, and moderators and attendees are invited to share their views and stories related to the topic of the day. The intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance our ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

The July event is Urbanism on Tap's final discussion in the Arts and Urbanism series, which explores the various connections between the urban environment of Tampa and urban design, artists and art organizations.  

“Community through Art, Art through Community” will focus on how art can be used to strengthen communities and how communities can in turn support artists and their work. To engage with these topics, participants will look at case studies from around the nation to discuss how other communities are handling these issues. 

Additionally, local artists and arts organization representatives will be invited to the event to share insights on how these issues are playing out in the Tampa area. 

In what ways does an urban arts scene create vibrancy in a place and how can it actively engage with the general public? Should governments and citizens ensure a place in the community for artists and arts organizations, and what are the best methods used to retain artists? What support do artists need to thrive? The audience and invitees will have the opportunity to talk about these questions and more.
 
The event organizers -- the Urban Charrette and CNU Tampa Bay -- encourage people to share their opinions on this topic by visiting Urbanism on Tap’s online Facebook page before and after the event. 

Venue: Independent Bar and Café, 5016 N Florida Ave, Tampa, 33603
Date and Time: July 14, 2015, from 5:30 to – 7 p.m.
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